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Digital Social Memory, Revisited

By Arshy Azizi

Reminder: Apply now for travel funding for our next web preservation conference, Ethics & Archiving the Web, taking place in March 2018.

In February, Rhizome convened a diverse range of experts in digital social memory at the New Museum to discuss the ethical and technological implications of digital archiving.

This important and wide-ranging conversation is now available as an interactive narrative, thanks to Lozana Rossenova, a PhD researcher at London's South Bank University who is working on research with Rhizome and the Center for Study of the Networked Image. Rossenova used Webrecorder, Rhizome's online tool that creates high-fidelity archives of the dynamic web, to capture online resources that contextualize her summary of the day-long series of conversations.

Throughout the day, panelists discussed problems of neutrality and surveillance. They raised questions about the intended audience of such archiving, as well as potential adverse effects on freedom of speech and privacy. User agency was a central theme; how much control should individuals have over how their data is collected? How will this new layer of surveillance affect interactions on social media? Should certain voices be privileged over others? They also analyzed the digital archive’s interpretation of political realities and, in turn, the archive’s influence on those lived realities.

A particular highlight was the conference's keynote panel, titled “Failures of Care.” Doreen St. Felix, a contributing writer at The New Yorker, and as well as artist and writer Kameelah Janan Rasheed, discussed the prospect of using social media archiving to contextualize and make visible black creative culture in the face of historical erasure, while also foregrounding the ongoing violence wrought by archives on black artists and communities. 

To continue this conversation, Rhizome, University of California at Riverside Library (UCR), the Maryland Institute for Technology in the Humanities (MITH), and the Documenting the Now project (DocNow) will host a National Forum on Ethics and Archiving the Web from March 22 to 24, 2018. If you would like to propose a short presentation, workshop, discussion, or case study, or if you wish to attend but require funding to do so, apply by filling out this form.

Rossenova will discuss the challenges facing her research in digital archiving and future narration of digital social memory on December 6th at the MacDevitts Studio in London.

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